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Eagles’ D-line has plenty to show

POSTED: March 30, 2011 11:04 a.m.

Georgia Southern’s defensive line had plenty of star power in 2010.

They’re all still around, but with First-Team AP All-American defensive tackle Brent Russell sidelined with an offseason injury and watching spring camp alongside end Dion DuBose, who still is recovering from a regular-season injury, there are plenty of new faces in the trenches.

With Russell, DuBose, Roderick Tinsley, Josh Gebhardt and John Douglas getting most of the playing time on the line during last season’s semifinal playoff run, the redshirts and backups just now are getting to show off what they can do against the first-team offense.

"Those guys are invaluable in the fall, because they give you the depth that you need," GSU defensive line coach John Scott said. "It gives us as coaches the opportunity to evaluate where they are and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. We look at it as a positive. When it comes to fall, we’re going to need all those guys to win."

Terico Agnew, a rising junior on the defensive line, knows all about that.

DuBose went down in 2010 with one regular-season game left on the schedule, and Agnew was one of the guys asked to fill in. He recorded three tackles for losses, including two in the second-round playoff win against William & Mary.

"It’s always very unfortunate when someone goes out, but it can also be a breakthrough point. I was able to come out and make some plays when Dion went out. Spring is an opportune time to show (the coaches) what you can do."

Blake Riley and Javon Mention also took snaps in 2010, but for the rest of the guys, spring camp is the first time to run with the first and second teams.

"Somebody’s got to run out there when the ones and twos get called," Scott said, "but we’re just rotating a lot of bodies."

Two transfers — Trey Trip from Ole Miss and Korentheus Bailey, a
317-pound tackle from Western Kentucky — already have made their presence known.

With Russell on crutches, he’s had plenty of time to scout the new talent.

"He’s sure coming along," Russell said about Bailey. "Just being out here a couple of days, you can see that."

Some of the redshirts also have had a chance at more reps. Tackle Justice Ejike and end Rashad Williams have impressed Scott and the coaches, and Omari Jones, who came into the program as a linebacker in 2010, has moved to defensive end.

And why not? It worked with DuBose after he played middle linebacker as a freshman in 2009.

"He’s long, he’s athletic, he can run and we feel like those are the guys we want at defensive end," Scott said about Jones. "It makes it tougher on the opponent when you’ve go to go up against a defensive end who has linebacker skills."

As the Eagles continue building depth on what was arguably the strongest part of the defense a year ago, it will be a long spring for DuBose and Russell, who won’t be cleared to play until after spring camp is over.

"It’s pretty bad," Russell said with a smile Monday at practice about the desire to be on the playing field. "You know — competitive edge."

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